May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Article contributed by Kimberley Lee, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center

The psychological, societal, and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic elevated the mental health needs of Americans and Human Resource professionals have been at the forefront in helping employers address these needs. HR staffs adapted quickly by incorporating weekly wellness calls to employees working remotely, developing policies to address the challenges of working through a pandemic and building a culture in which workers continued to feel connected and supported.

Companies expanded support for mental wellness, such as adding mental health days, and increased benefits to address a mental health diagnosis, such as expanded therapy visits.

As the country emerges from the COVID-19 public health emergency, HR professionals continue to assess what are the best practices to support employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

In doing so it is important for HR staff members to be aware of their own mental wellness. A global survey of HR professionals commissioned at the end of 2021 by the employee engagement app Workvivo and released last year showed some 98 percent surveyed felt burned out at work during the six-months prior and 97 percent felt emotionally fatigued over the year.

There is growing recognition today that being mentally healthy is more than the absence of mental illness. Mental wellness involves feeling good about one’s self, confident in one’s ability to cope with demands and being positive in meeting those demands.

So, how to avoid burnout and remain mentally resilient as an HR professional? As busy professionals, myself included, taking time to be aware of your own mental health and fill your own “emotional cup” is crucial. For many, the demanding days of an HR professional are filled with the needs and wants of your workforce. It can be a truly taxing role that can drain any cup.

An “emotional cup’ is a metaphor for mental wellness. Filling a cup makes it drinkable. Replenishing an emotional one with acts of self-care keeps one’s mental wellbeing replenished.

This means engaging in behaviors that nourish you and maintain supportive relationships. It means prioritizing your emotional needs, paying attention to your feelings, and taking steps to address and process them in healthy ways.

Activities that bring joy, fulfillment and solace depend on individual preference and needs. For me, self-care frequently means running, gardening (weeding really), star gazing and reading. For others it might include a weekend away with friends, an hour at the gym or time spent making a favorite meal.

It is important to prioritize self-care and emotional wellness to maintain our own human resources – ourselves! Replenishing our metaphorical cups on a regular basis keeps us mentally resilient, and with a positive presence on the job, at home and in all other areas of our life.

Mental wellness in the workplace will be explored further in our upcoming webinar for EANE. Join us for this Lunch & Learn event on May 16th! Register here

Kimberley Lee is Chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. She can be reached for further information on MiraVista’s resources at [email protected]. MiraVista Behavioral Health Center is a Holyoke-based psychiatric hospital that serves adults and adolescents and offers a continuum of substance use treatment. Its mission is to deliver individualized, patient-centered care to those experiencing a mental health crisis and to promote awareness of mental health as something we all have and recognition for when care is needed to address it.